Sacred Music

SACRED MUSIC COURSE DESCRIPTIONS  (Four One-Semester Courses beginning Fall of  2015)  


SEMESTER 1 “The Languages of Worship”

An introduction to the contexts of sacred music, including the history, contemporary manifestations, and critiques of worship—their theory, their theology, and their theatricality.

SEMESTER 2  “Choirs from Delphi to Dallas”

An overview of the history and literature of the worship chorus/choir from western antiquity to the present day. The course will include discussion and practice in the choice and presentation of the choral elements of worship based on principles discussed in Semester I, “The Languages of Worship.”  (Please note that neither Semester 1 nor any other course in the Sacred Music sequence is a prerequisite to any other course in the sequence.)

SEMESTER 3   “Ritual and Ritualizing Musical Instruments”

An investigation of the organ—and bells—as a ritual instrument both in metaphor and practice.  The course will also include exploration of the use of other musical instruments in worship as ritualizing substitutes for organ and bells.  A substantial part of the course will consist in an exploration of the ritual properties of organ music past and present as well as consideration of the importance of musical and other kinds of improvisation in ritual expression.

SEMESTER 4    “The Role of Music in Building Religious and Other Kinds of Community”

A review of the anthropology and history of communal musical expression with emphasis on the development of western hymnody, particularly with regard to the integration of hymns and other congregational music into various kinds of worship.  Students will engage in the composition and performance of original hymns or other congregational music at whatever level each student is able to produce satisfying results.

Summer 2015 - News

Dr. Jesse Eschbach announces the appointment of Dr. Charles Brown as Instructor of Sacred Music Studies at the University of North Texas, effective August 2015.  In addition to his many years as one of the foremost and sought-after pedagogues in organ, Dr. Brown received the Master of Divinity degree from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University, putting him in an ideal position to coordinate this program.

Brown is a former University Organist at Arizona State University and a former Professor of Organ and Harpsichord at the University of North Texas from 1968-1984. In the Dallas area, he has held organist-choirmaster positions at St. John’s Episcopal Church and at First Community Church United Church of Christ.  He is currently organist/choirmaster at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in Oak Cliff, Dallas.

Dr. Brown holds the Bachelor of Music degree from Westminster Choir College, the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees and the Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, and the Master of Divinity degree from Brite Divinity School of Texas Christian University.  Dr. Brown has also pursued graduate studies in theater at UNT and Texas Woman’s University, and he was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Vienna, Austria, where he was a student of Anton Heiller in organ and Isolde Ahlgrimm in harpsichord.  After graduating from Brite Divinity School, Dr. Brown was ordained into the ministry of the United Church of Christ (UCC) and recently served five-and-one-half years as pastor of St. Paul United Church of Christ in Corpus Christi.  He holds the FAGO and ChM certificates of the American Guild of Organists and is a past dean of the Dallas Chapter of the AGO and a past national AGO Councillor for Education.  Among several current  projects, Dr. Brown is exploring the meeting of music, theatre, and theology as constituting a “trifocal” view of the origins and practice of Christian worship.  

Dr. Brown replaces Mark Scott who coordinated the Sacred Music curriculum for 10 years at UNT.  During his tenure, this curriculum was completely restructured and is now available to graduate students as a minor (related field).  Interested people may audit these classes at the discretion of the instructor. 

Welcome abord, Dr. Brown!